Tag Archive | reviews

Book Review: Dance of the Womb

Dance of the Womb book cover

Book Review: Dance of the Womb: The Essential Guide to Belly Dance for Pregnancy and Birth
By Maha Al Musa, 2008
ISBN 978-0-646-48705-2
260 page hardcover book, $49.95 (AUS)
http://www.bellydanceforbirth.com

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

Some books simply feel good to hold in your hands. Dance of the Womb is one such book: it is beautiful, both in content and appearance. While priced a little higher than some birth books, I cannot emphasize enough what a high quality book it is—-it is not a traditional trade paperback, it is of textbook quality and size. Hardbound with a lovely cover and endpapers, Dance of the Womb is packed with full color, detailed, step-by-step instructional photographs leading the reader through a “belly dance for birth” journey.

Dance of the Womb is divided into several segments. The first section summarizes the benefits of belly dance and explores the physiology of birth. The next section walks the reader through a series of gentle warm-up exercises while the following sections progress through a variety of different specific belly dance movements. Nearing the conclusion of the text is a segment about labor movements with positions. Each section of the book is lavishly illustrated with very clear, easy to follow, step-by-step photographs.

The author’s own journey through pregnancy, birth, and mothering is skillfully interwoven throughout the text as well as her own feminine passage into understanding herself as a complete woman. Interspersed with the photographs and belly dance instructions, is the exploration of the author’s pregnancy and birth experiences, her relationship with her own mother and her parents’ culture. The book contains her personal birth stories as well as perspectives on belly dance for birth from three midwives.

The author, Maha Al Musa lives in Australia. Her interest in Middle Eastern Dance was sparked by her Palestinian/Lebanese roots and birthplace as well as her pilgrimage to explore her heritage and reconnect with her long-separated mother. Maha has also developed a Dance of the Womb step-by-step instructional belly dancing DVD (sold separately, review to follow) that includes a video of her own homebirth journey with her third child. She is also developing a one day foundation course in “bellydancebirth” for birth professionals with a plan to go international in 2011.

Dance of the Womb is a great introduction to not just the basic physical elements of prenatal belly dance, but also to the spiritual aspects of giving birth and life as a woman. It is written with an intimate tone that makes the reader feel as if the author has reached out across the miles to form a direct, personal connection. This book feels like a rich treasure to hold and is a gentle, nurturing, encouraging, and enriching voyage for pregnant women or the people who serve them.

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Tummy Tub Mini-Review

When my two children were babies, I struggled through many a bath with them in a shallow little white plastic baby tub. It was hard to keep the baby warm in the water and it was also hard on my back to lean over the big bathtub to bathe them. We actually preferred sink baths (which are quite messy). Bathing together in a big tub was not an option because we didn’t have one available.

So, I was delighted to recently discover a new type of tub for infants and to receive one for review purposes—The Tummy Tub has an appearance similar to large bucket with a flared out top. It can hold a nice level of water to keep the baby comfortable, but still safe. The idea is that it duplicates some of the elements of being in the womb for babies, thus making the bathing experience more pleasant for everyone. You can also purchase a separate little stool/stand for the Tummy Tub so that you can sit comfortably with it instead of leaning over and straining your back.

I’m pleased to have this new resource available to show to my clients. During our last week of classes when we cover postpartum, newborn care, and breastfeeding, I bring along a variety of products to demonstrate and let parents see and touch and experiment with hands-on. I bring a variety of baby carriers, plenty of cloth diapers, and now a Tummy Tub as well.

Simply Give Birth: A Mini-Review

Only about a week following my miscarriage, I received a review copy of a new book by Heather Cushman-Dowdee (also known as Hathor the Cowgoddess). I have a pile of birth-related books waiting for me to review. However, I found that this soon post-miscarriage when I go to read them, my heart just isn’t in it, and I set them down again. However, Heather’s book was a different experience. Titled Simply Give Birth, the book is a beautiful collection of powerful birth stories (mostly unassisted births). When I got the book, I thought, “well, I’ll just flip through this a bit, even though my heart isn’t in it.” Well, I was instantly entranced in spite of myself. I didn’t finish reading it that week, but I picked it back up the following week and read it all the way through. What a treasure. It was very, very good and I really recommend it.

As I have briefly referenced here, I was struck by how the experience of “unassisted natural home miscarriage” parallels that of unassisted birth. Immediately after my body released my little baby, I felt strong and brave and powerful and like, “wow! I did it!” even though the outcome was not what I ever planned for or wanted. I rarely see feelings like that expressed in the many hospital/D & C miscarriage stories I’ve been reading lately and I feel happy that I was able to give myself and my baby the gift of “letting go” in our own dear home.

Reading Heather’s introduction about telling a new story about birth made me think there are new stories to be told about miscarriage as well. She says about the stories she selected for her book: “…all birth stories…prove what can be done. We can birth our babies and relish it too. We’re not stoic or fanatical, we’re mothers doing what mothers have always done, giving birth; with grace and spirit, and chutzpah, and moxie…they shared their grief, their passions, their exhaultation, and their fears. It takes massive courage to write about this most personal of moments with such candor and intensity and then be willing to share…”

Simply Give Birth is simply amazing. If hope you are lucky and find it in your Christmas stocking this year. If you don’t, or if you just can’t wait to read it, pop on over to the website and buy it ASAP!

Recent Publications

This has been quite a month for me for publications!

My short article Centering for Birth was published in the International Journal of Childbirth Education (page 20)

My book review of Fathers at Birth was published in The CAPPA Quarterly (page 14).

My film review of Birth as We Know It was in The CAPPA Quarterly (page 15).

And, my piece of creative nonfiction Nursing Johnny Depp was published in Literary Mama.

I’m excited about all of these! 🙂